If you’ve ever traveled to the sunny Algarve, in the south of Portugal, you might have had a chance to see the bustling Live Music scene they’ve got going on, with thousands of bars catering to the whopping 22 million tourists who visit it annually.
We caught up with The Guinness Brothers, Colm and Roddy, after one of their gigs in the Vilamoura Marina. They have both been playing different genres of music from a very young age, in various bands. Colm has been playing professionally from the age of 16, and Roddy from the age of 18.
Music has taken this duo around the world, having played all over Europe, America and even Asia.
Roddy tells us how the band got started, “Funny story, I met Colm when I was 17, after coming back from the Netherlands, while recording a video with a friend in Old town Albufeira, turns out Colm had a company that needed videographers, and I had a camera. So after a couple of beers and some talking I was hired and working for a company that worked with musicians from all over the world.”
“After a while I became Colm’s “Roadie”, and eventually weaseled my way into playing guitar with him at one of his gigs. He must’ve liked it because we’ve been playing music together ever since”.
When asked about the name of the band, Roddy lets out a chuckle and says “Sagres brother was harder to pronounce!” Colm completes it with “We always felt like family and we both shared a love for a pint of the black stuff. Although Roddy could only handle one or two pints of it when we started playing!”
The band is known in part thanks to their motto, “the more you drink the better we sound”. Roddy completes it by saying “the more we drink the better the audience looks”. Colm explains that it makes the audience feel a bit more relaxed and laugh a bit right at the start of the gig so nobody takes it very seriously.
Their set is a big mix of every kind of music – with an Irish twist. They never bring an actual setlist to a gig, working instead off requests from the audience. When asked about the best part of Irish music, Roddy says “The best part isn’t even the music, it’s the craic that goes along with it”. Colm comments on the diversity within Irish music, with funny songs as well as sad and emotion-filled ballads.
When asked their favourite Irish song, Colm chooses “Only our rivers run free” and Roddy chooses “Grace”, two Irish ballads that the duo explains have a powerful message and story behind them.
The Guinness Brothers have played in a variety of Irish bars, from smaller to larger venues. Crowd size doesn’t seem to phase them as they explain that smaller Irish bars have a more intimate setting, in which they can communicate better with the people, and bigger Irish bars and crowds give them more control and an energetic feeling.
While talking about their travels, the duo mention four of the hundreds of bars they’ve worked for; O’Shea’s is a smaller pub located in the Vilamoura marina where, again, intimacy is key as the crowd gathers closer to the band and the requests keeping flying in. O’Neill’s, also located in the Vilamoura marina, is a larger Irish pub and the first place the duo played in.
McGuire’s is, according to Colm, the biggest Irish bar they’ve played for. With over two million dollars (1 dollar bills) hanging from the ceiling, and a 5k run the week before St.Patricks day that hosts over 16,000 people. The bar in Pensacola and it’s twin bar in Destin, Florida are true to their motto, “Feasting, Imbibery and Debauchery.”
Erin’s Isle is the biggest Irish pub in Portugal and a more family orientated pub, located in Albufeira.
The Dubliner is the reason Colm moved to Portugal, 15 years ago. A small pub that grew and moved as the years went on, but a true home to The Guinness Brothers.
When asked if there are any downsides to playing music, Colm replies with a quick “There are downsides to every single job, being away from family when travelling is one of them, but the good thing about playing in a band rather than playing solo is that when I’m feeling down or ill, Roddy will pick up the slack, and when Roddy’s not at his best, I’ll pick up the slack. Which means we keep the show going regardless.”
So what’s next for The Guinness Brothers? Besides traveling around the world, they are also working on their show online, by streaming and interacting with the viewers the same way they do on a live show, with requests and interaction with the audience.
You can follow the band through their social media accounts: